In the News…

In the wake of the state of São Paulo’s move to install its own, state-level truth commission earlier this month, other Brazilian states are taking steps to create similar bodies, Najla Passos reports (scroll down to the middle of her article). The state legislatures of Pernambuco, Bahia, and Alagoas are all debating bills that would create state truth commissions. Additionally, the city council of Natal has proposed the creation of a municipal truth commission.

Military officers attempting to commemorate the anniversary of the 1964 military coup found themselves surrounded by around 350 protesters brandishing signs with phrases like “Dictatorship isn’t revolution” (the military government dubbed its takeover a revolution as part of its effort to maintain a democratic façade) and “Where are our dead and disappeared from Araguaia?”. See also this article in English.

Counter-commemorations of the coup also took place in São Paulo, with protesters from the group Cordão da Mentira, made up of theatre practitioners, samba musicians, and others. The protesters made appearances at key sites in the city that are linked to the repression, including in front of the former station house of the state political police (DEOPS).

One of those participating in the military commemoration of the coup was Roberto Nogueira Médici, son of former president Emílio Garrastazu Médici, whose term in office coincided with the harshest years of the repression, known as the anos de chumbo or leaden years (1968-1974). The younger Médici vocally criticized the National Truth Commission and signed copies of the book Médici – A Verdadeira História (Médici: The True Story) by the retired general Agnaldo Del Nero Augusto. The book, which attempts to rehabilitate the image of the dictator, was originally published last year.

The Federal Public Ministry in São Paulo today recommended that the State Secretary of Public Security instruct all state police agencies to verify the existence of dictatorship-era security archives and to turn over any relevant documents to the State Archive. The recommendation follows on the heels of the Freedom of Information Act that President Dilma Rousseff signed last November.

In a recent post on Revista Fórum, Idelber Avelar reflects on how Brazil has yet to mourn the dead and disappeared of the military dictatorship. “Our mourning process is incomplete and precarious,” he writes, “because it lacks the essential component: institutional recognition, in the polis, of what happened, and the holding accountable of the perpetrators.”

Another reminder that state-sponsored violence remains rampant in Brazil almost thirty years after the transition to democratic rule: the country’s militarized police (polícia militar, or PM) kill more victims in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro alone than in countries that have the death penalty, writes Raphael Prado. Brazil, of course, doesn’t have an official death penalty.

Relations between Dilma and the military continue to be strained. Recently the military sponsored a manifest critiquing Dilma’s presidency. She requested that the document be withdrawn, however the military refused to respond accordingly. Brazilians are now wondering how Dilma will respond to military tension and how that relationship will play out in the future.

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